I mean, don’t get me wrong, yes it is terrible that he basically let Citigroup pick his cabinet. Yes, I am frustrated by the Dodd-Frank deal. Yes, I find the drone killing spree abhorrent. But, considering the reality of politics and government, can you really afford to unequivocally reject someone because they are not “perfect”?
This may sound like I’m bartering, or excusing kicks to the ribs for table scraps. I’m not. We should all be fully aware of what we’re dealing with, and hold our leaders accountable. But if we stand so staunchly uncompromising, refusing to see what we can still get out of a shitty situation, we will never get anything at all.
We got some good things out of Obama. You can’t argue against that. Progressive values were certainly advanced in a big way, even if we still have a long way to go. I can prove this by pointing to the backlash, the reactionary election we just experienced where anti-Progressives “took back America”. If we gained nothing under Obama, what are they taking back?
We can’t lower our standards, but we also can’t refuse to acknowledge reality. Politics is a filthy, slimy beast, and for now looks to be certain to remain that way indefinitely. There is no accounting for what a system that requires an individual to appear appealing to as many vastly different people as possible does to a person. It is inherently self-sabotage. As surely as Obama promised Change and Hope and gave us neither, as Trump pledged to Drain the Swamp and instead took a bath in it, we cannot expect to kill this beast with the election of one person.
This calls for an entirely new movement, one that transcends any one political skein, one that brings people of all different viewpoints together in a united front to completely re-make our leadership from bottom to top. Progressives alone can’t do it. Neither can Conservatives. There simply aren’t enough of us, which means we have to compromise. Compromise is the practice of acknowledging the limits of your own aims and seeking out the greatest gain within a system of competing interests. Without it, any Towers of Progress we erect in one administration will be the razing targets of the next. We doom ourselves to an endless back-and-forth, all the while the slimy beast grows fatter and more corrupt.
You can hate on Obama all you want, but you’ll get nowhere demanding everyone live up to such an impossible standard. Call him out, hold her accountable, but also enable them where you can. We’re never going to get a Jesus politician.